Spring is here and that is GOOD NEWS. There are many reasons for which this is good. It is good because outdoor drinking, open windows, and dresses. Mostly, though, it is good because flea markets. But before you begin foraging amongst the knicks and the knacks, you should be prepared. And the best way to prep is available right here, from this flea aficionado, via a handy DOs and DON’Ts list. Read, learn, and FLEA.
- Bring cash. You think Square is ubiquitous, but you are wrong.
- Bring a tote bag. You think bags are ubiquitous, but you are wrong.
- Bring water. You thing hydration is ubiquitous, but you are wrong.
- Come with expectations. This is not American Apparel and you can’t be like, “I want the perfect white button-down.” Or, well, you can—but you’ll be likely disappointed. Come with an open mind and be prepared to drop a wad o’ cash, or perhaps spend no money at all. “Hit or miss,” as they say.
- Accept sticker price. Do not be a fool who is fooled and HAGGLE. They’re expecting it (even if they say they’re not), we promise.
- Hit up the same flea markets every time. You want variety? Well it’s not so hard! Just be sure to look beyond your neighborhood flea destination.
An Interview with Hugh McIntosh, Manager of the District Flea
These are excerpts from our full interview, which ran September 2013.
BYT: What are some of the specifics that make it seem like we’re feeling like New York five years ago?
HM: There’s a lot of interest and actual small businesses and entrepreneurs that want to do more locally produced, locally collected kind of thing. The kind of things that work well in our format.
BYT: How much money will you bring with you when you go to the flea market?
HM: Oh man, I usually bring around $100 in cash and a check in case I see something expensive and I absolutely need.
BYT: Is there a bad connotation with the term ‘flea market?’
HM: I think when most people think flea market they’re thinking of a large scale garage sale with people selling crap. I think that’s one of the reasons people responded so well to the Brooklyn Flea Market. I do think we’re changing the term.
1819 35th Street NW
Sundays 8:00am – 4:00pm
- Georgetown Flea is a hero of authenticity. Definitely flea here if you’re looking for vintage/antique pieces so you can be that super good looking and proudly annoying person who chants “vintage” when someone asks where they bought their outfit. Maybe you’re already a trendy retro babe, so go to check out the art and oddities to make your house look maybe half as good as you do. We have an array of photos of its jewelry/clothes/art so you can preview the merchandise.
15th & P Street NW
First Saturday of every month April through November, 11:00am – 5:00pm
- Go to DC MEETMarket if you’re looking for an experience. It’s the ideal sunny Saturday date spot with art, food, clothes, knick-knacks, toys–the whole damn shebang. Bop around the aisles of vendors, watch children blow bubbles and cute old people hold hands, because happiness. This market is on more of a mission than you are. Its purpose is to engage the community and showcase and support local business, artists and designers. There are different events each month, including DJs, live bands and educational crafts and activities for kids and adults. Here’s our coverage of DC MEETMarket.
225 7th Street SE
Sundays 9:00am – 5:00pm
Eastern Market meets all of the shopping needs you’d ever have. From vintage maps to handmade African jewelry and baby cacti succulents in hand-painted ceramic bowls, this place has it ALL– I love perusing the handmade sterling silver jewelry and pineapple/flamingo/palm tree printed men’s button-down shirts. The best part? The merchandise comes after all of the food vendors, so I may or may not have acquired the habit of carrying a bag of peaches or white chocolate cookies or whatever else in the crook of my arm while I’m shopping. Another thing: if you go to the market closer to closing time, the wonderful ladies who sell sunflowers have been known to give a couple out for free. My kitchen table thanks me. -Morgan Baskin
For more photos and lovely words on Eastern Market’s flea extravaganza, go here. Also, lego cufflinks:
945 Florida Avenue NW
Saturdays 10:00am – 5:00pm, seasonally
- This was started by the BRILLIANT people behind Brooklyn Flea, which makes this not an issue of finding awesome items; it’s a matter of spending way too much. Vendors from D.C., Baltimore, Philly, and NYC come here to show off their stuff so prepare your bank account because they take credit cards. Get a peek with our interview with the manager of District Flea. You should probably learn to bargain if you want to have money left for food this week:
Wheaton Outdoor Rink
11751 Orebaugh Avenue, Silver Spring
Second & forth Saturday of March through October, 9:00am – 2:00 pm
Yelp: 2 stars – “The covered outdoor skating rink was no where near filled with vendors or browsers. I was there about an hour after the start time and it was not bustling with consumers at all. For the most part, there were people selling used items – lots of shoes, purses, jewelry, toys etc… Some antiques, but not much. There were also folks selling crafty things. I went out of curiosity. I now know this isn’t the flea market for me.”
7155 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda
Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 7:00am to 4:00pm
- After a trip to a flea market you might not walk away with anything, which is the sad truth, but probably not the case in Bethesda. This market is food-focused with a slew of artisanal pantry goods, baked goods, and fresh produce. It’s located just a short walk from the Bethesda Metro stop, so don’t let that distance trick you out of a good day at the market.
Dulles Expo Center, Chantilly
May 3rd & 4th
After the May dates it won’t be back for a while, so don’t miss it! With over 600 booths, it’s the Mid-Atlantic’s largest indoor antiques and collectibles flea market. You can find vintage clothing and handbags, fine antiques, artwork, jewelry, and much more. There is also have an NYC Big Flea; the next show is September 27 & 28th.
18188 Bazaar Avenue, Ruther Glen
Saturdays & Sundays, 9:00am – 5:00pm
Yelp: 3.5 stars, $ – “From everything I’ve read, this place has apparently gone downhill. There is a flea market area out front that is rather small. Maybe 20 people at most. Some are selling their used items, some are selling new stuff. If there were more tables, this place would be great. I’m not sure why there aren’t more people outside, The lot is huge and wraps around the building. I’d contemplate packing up my stuff and going there to sell it but it doesn’t appear to be a well visited location. 3 separate visits during different times of the year provided a pretty good idea of how much foot traffic visits. Not nearly enough to warrant hauling a truck full of stuff down there. Then there is the inside. Another building full of stalls of various wares. Mostly new. Lots of repetitive stuff, new clothes, Nascar, handmade crafts, etc. I enjoyed looking around but was surprised at some of the prices on things. There was a collectible toy both but the items were ridiculously priced! There’s also a fair amount of empty stalls.”
I-66 garage located at 15th and Stafford Street in North Arlington
First Saturday of every month, April through November from 7:00am – 1:30pm
This is the LARGEST compilation of vendors. You may have to sift through a lot of shit but you’re guaranteed to find some gems amongst the cartoon thermoses. This isn’t designed for a lackadaisical trip to the flea market, prepare to post up on the site and start digging. So maybe you don’t need a ’50s bird cage (see pictures and a full story here), but you’ll definitely find some nugget of joy to bring into your home.